Bio: John George Zimmerman, 1857

Contact: Janet




----Source: History of Clark County, Wisconsin (1918), by Franklyn, Curtiss-Wedge, pg. 268 - 270.

         J. G. Zimmerman

JOHN GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, who is operating in Neillsville one of the finest department stores to be found outside the large commercial centers such as Milwaukee or Minneapolis, is a man who has well deserved the success he has attained. He was born on a farm in Grant County, Wis., Aug. 2, 1857, son of George and Catherine (Schmalendberger) Zimmerman, his parents being natives of Germany, but married in Grant County, Wis. The father, George Zimmerman. was born Feb. 9, 1815, on his parent’s farm in Germany, and came to the United States in 1851.

After spending two years as a laborer in Jefferson County, Wis., he secured a homestead in Hickory Grove Township, Grant County, it comprising 160 acres, and to this he subsequently added until he had 207 acres. He built his own log cabin, hewing out the shingles himself, and showed that he had all the requisite qualities of a good pioneer. In 1867 he moved to Avoca and there conducted a hotel until 1880, when he retired, his death taking place March 23, 1906. He assisted in building St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Avoca, of which he was a member. His wife, Catharine, was a daughter of Peter and Catherine Schmalendberger, and came to the United States with her parents and six sisters, they locating on a homestead in Grant County, Wis. Their voyage to America lasted thirteen weeks, which was two weeks more than Mr. Zimmerman spent on the ocean. The market for these families in Hickory Grove Township was sixty miles away, and when provisions were low they often ground corn in the coffee mill and used the grease dip for light. Mrs. George Zimmerman, who was born Oct. 23, 1836, died June 3, 1915, when in her 79th year. The children of herself and husband were: John G., the date of whose birth has been already given; Frederick William, born Oct. 21, 1866; Kate, born in April, 1869; Fannie, born in May, 1874; Theresa, born Sept. 30, 1876, and Louis, born March 25, 1883.

John G. Zimmerman, in his boyhood, attended the log schoolhouse of his district, being a pupil during the Civil War period, which made an impression on his mind, as his teacher had a husband and three brothers serving as soldiers in the war. He left school at the age of 14 to work at bridge construction on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, becoming a regular laborer and later foreman. While residing at Avoca he seems to have impressed his fellow citizens with the force of his personality, for he was elected justice of the peace when only 21 years old. He also held other offices, serving as township supervisor, township clerk and president of the village board of Avoca. In 1890 he opened a furniture and undertaking
establishment at Avoca, but in the following year sold out and bought a half interest in a store at Muscoda, to which village he moved his family in March.

On Aug. 15, 1901, Mr. Zimmerman bought a one-fourth interest in his present business, which was thereafter conducted under the name of Frayselorf & Zimmerman. On July 20, 1910, he purchased the interest of John Kohler, and on Oct. 12 of the same year, that. of the estate of Mr. Frayselorf, who died Oct. 16, 1909. He then took John E. Halliday in as partner, the firm being known as the Zimmerman & Halliday Company. In January, 1912, Mr. Zimmerman bought out his partners' interest, and the business was conducted under his own name until 1913, when it was incorporated as J. G. Zimmerman & Sons, his town sons, George F. and Joseph A., becoming partners. The store is equipped with the cash register system, a display system of the latest models, and is exceptionally well lighted and ventilated. Mr. Zimmerman had no mercantile experience previous to his starting in the furniture business at Muscoda, but he had then at some extent shown what he was capable of by saving $2,400 from his wages as laborer and foreman on the railroad. From that sum, carefully invested and wisely managed, his present prosperity has grown, and he is now numbered among the most successful merchants in Clark County.

Mr. Zimmerman is also interested in the local canning factory, and owns stock in the Farmers Elevator and Lumber Yard. He has served on the auditing committee of the school board for the last five years. He belongs to the Blue Lodge and Chapter and Commandry of the Masonic Order at Neillsville, and also to the Woodmen.

Mr. Zimmerman was married Sept. 25, 1883, to Mary Schenak, who was born in Castle Rock Township, Grant, County, Wis., daughter of Joseph and Barbara (Wanek) Shenak. Her parents, who were born and married in Bohemia, came to the United States with one child about 1854, homesteading a farm in Grant County, Wis. Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman have three children: Harry Francis, born April , 1898; George F., born Oct. 12, 1886, and Joseph A., born May 30, 1889. Mr. Zimmerman is a member of the Christian Science Church, and his wife of the Eastern Star Lodge, at Neillsville.



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